Tim Blanchette, 58: Met the challenges of MS head on

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FALMOUTH — Tim Blanchette died peacefully at Gosnell House in Scarborough on Dec. 15, surrounded by family.

Born Dec. 28, 1946, in Rockville Center, New York, he was the third son of William and Amanda Blanchette. He was very active at East Rockaway High School in a variety of extracurricular activities. In addition to theater and other clubs, he excelled in football, basketball and track; his high school track record in the triple jump was unbroken for many years.

Blanchette graduated from St. Anselm College with a Bachelor of Science degree, but graduate school was delayed by his service in the Army during the Vietnam War. After he was discharged, Blanchette married Dorothy Clemenzi and began to explore a career as a respiratory therapist. After Blanchette worked at Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts for a short time, the Blanchettes moved to Maine. Blanchette worked at Maine Medical Center and obtained a Master of Science degree in education from the University of Southern Maine. Blanchette loved life in Maine; he and his wife enjoyed canoeing, hiking, skiing and biking. They also tended a large garden.

After Blanchette was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was in the Army the disease went into remission until 1981. However, Blanchette was undaunted, saying, “I was always involved in sports, and I look at MS as a challenge, as something to make me work harder.” After his ability to get around declined, Blanchette had to switch from respiratory therapy and became a researcher and counselor.

Blanchette also became a dedicated biker who rode specially adapted tricycles.  For 25 years he participated in the Maine MS ride. He also rode in the Trek Across Maine, Beach to Beacon, and even completed the Boston Marathon in the wheelchair division.

In 1992, he was nominated as MS Father of the Year, and was honored by President George H.W. Bush in Washington, D.C. Blanchette was very active at Foreside Community Church, and also coached his sons’ teams. He was a member of Veterans for Peace, volunteered at Longcreek Youth Development Center and St. Vincent DePaul soup kitchen.

But after stuggling with MS for many years, Blanchette was diagnosed with cancer, and the two illnesses overtook him.

He was predeceased by his parents.

Blanchette is survived by his wife of 42 years, Dorothy; two sons, Ethan, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, and Aaron, of Freeport; two grandsons, Judah and Asher, of Freeport; two brothers, Bruce, of New Hampshire and Ralph, of New York.

A private internment took place Dec. 19 at Foreside Community Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will be held at Foreside Community Church, 340 Foreside Road, 11 a.m. Jan. 9.

The Blanchette family would like to thank clergy at his church, Falmouth emergency services and Blanchette’s medical team.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Mabaali School for Orphans, Foreside Community UCC Church, 340 Foreside Road, Falmouth, ME  04105. On the memo line add Orphanage.